Woman accused of crawling through ceiling to steal prescription drugs

Stephanie Butler

WAUKESHA COUNTY (WITI) -- A 30-year-old Dousman woman faces multiple charges for allegedly stealing prescription drugs from a Kmart store and leaving a toddler alone in a car. The accused is Stephanie Butler.

The charges filed against Butler in Waukesha County include: burglary, child neglect, possession of narcotic drugs, possession of a controlled substance, felony bail jumping and misdemeanor theft.

According to the criminal complaint, police responded just before 10 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6th to a report of an abandoned child in a vehicle at the Kmart store on Summit Ave. in Oconomowoc.  Officers arrived and made contact with the caller -- Butler's mother. She indicated Stephanie "was missing since 5:30 p.m. and with the help of her daughter's husband...they were able to locate Stephanie's vehicle." The complaint indicates a two-year-old child was seen in a safety seat in the back of the vehicle. Officers apparently gained access to the vehicle through an open moon roof, unlocked the doors and found the child safe. The complaint says "it was undetermined how long the child had been in the car" but that Stephanie Butler had "entered the store without the child at approximately 9 p.m."

While checking the store for Butler, the complaint says "employees did notice that there was a step ladder located near the pharmacy that had not been there earlier in the night. It appeared as if ceiling tiles had been moved above the ladder near the back service desk." Officers looked inside the ceiling but did not find anyone there.

While officers were speaking with a clerk, the criminal complaint says "an audible alarm was set off near the pharmacy." Officers saw a woman walking from an aisle who was later identified as Butler. The complaint says "she was carrying something in her hands and had a jacket covering whatever was in her arms. She did walk past the final point of sale and never made an attempt to pay for the items in her possession." At that point, officers detained Butler.

The complaint says Butler had a "plastic Kmart shopping bag that contained 18 different pill bottles from the pharmacy." Officers also indicated Butler was "lethargic and possibly on some sort of controlled substance."

The complaint indicates Butler gained access to the store's pharmacy through the ceiling tiles. "She had climbed the ladder into the ceiling crawl space, made her way through into the pharmacy through a large open hole in the ceiling and had broken into the pharmacy."

"We've had rooftop burglaries in the past where they've gone in through the ceiling, but never where somebody tried to put themselves in the ceiling and then dropping down in the pharmacy," said Capt. Ron Buerger of the Oconomowoc Police Department.

If convicted of the most serious charge, Butler faces up to 12-and-a-half years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

In March, Butler allegedly used her position as a bank employee to steal money. She was charged with 11 counts of misdemeanor theft -- and 15 counts of identity theft.